Attending a school board meeting is always an interesting endeavor. The meetings are frequently boring, and the school board could waste 45 minutes debating whether to extend the meeting by 5 minutes, but there are moments when the gloves come off and the fireworks begin. The January 7th meeting had one of those moments during Grant Lattin’s comment time.
Mr. Lattin is the school board member from Occoquan District and tonight he more or less characterized the parents who have spoken against Investigations a handful of petty liars. He accused those parents of misrepresenting the facts and spreading misinformation, said that they only represented the concerns of 6 families, and only came from four schools.
With all due respect, Mr. Lattin has no clue what he’s talking about.
First, there may be only a handful of parents who address the board, but many parents have sent messages opposing Investigations to their board members, so either Mr. Lattin doesn’t read his email or he doesn’t get any. Perhaps it’s time to send him some – his PWCS email address is firstname.lastname@example.org – be sure to cc Chairman Johns and Superintendent Waltz in case Mr Lattin ignores your message.
Additionally, Mr. Lattin seems to have conveniently forgotten the results of the math survey which were released this Fall. That survey indicated that approximately 50% of parents and 66% of Grade 3 teachers believed the county math program was insufficient to meet their child or students academic needs. While I’m disappointed that so many parents have chosen to remain silent on an issue as important as this one, I’m not surprised by their reluctance to express their concerns in public considering how resoundingly Mr. Lattin attacked the parents who have the courage to speak out .
Second, at present 1,483 citizens have signed the petition. That’s almost 5% of the parents of K-4 elementary students. Five percent may seem small, but it is statistically significant. Mr Richardson, of Gainesville District, is of the opinion that providing a program which fails to meet the needs to 5% of the population is more than acceptable. Like Mr Lattin he seems to have conveniently forgotten the math survey results. Mr. Richardson has no problem waiting until we’re received several years of declining test scores before changing the program. Of course his children are already out of elementary school so they won’t be the ones left behind. He probably needs a few emails as well.
Third, the people who have signed the petition come from all over the county – not just the 4 schools Mr Lattin mentioned in his speech. Unlike Mr. Lattin, I don’t have the taxpayers funding staff who appear more than willing to squander our scarce and declining resources to search their county databases and cross reference the addresses citizens are required to provide before they speak at board meetings with school boundaries. As such I am unable to provide a list of the schools represented by signatures in the petition. Feel free to review the signatures yourself and note the zip codes listed – a link is available to the right.
Fourth, the information conveyed by the parents who do speak out isn’t falsified. They didn’t create fictitious homework assignments and assessments, they didn’t force their child’s teacher to mark 6 x 8 = 48 wrong, they don’t create scenarios out of thin air. Unlike Mr Lattin’s children, who are out of elementary school and aren’t being force fed fuzzy math, their children are being subjected to Investigations and these parents honestly believe that the county program leaves their children behind. These parents don’t stand up out of malicious intent – they just want a math program that actually teaches their children. Perhaps if Mr. Lattin’s children were still in elementary school he’d see things differently and rather than demeaning the parents who have to courage to stand up and calling them liars, Mr Lattin would to be thanking them for their commitment to their children.
Fifth, presenting studies and expert witnesses whose opinions run counter to Mr. Lattin’s opinion isn’t misleading or misrepresenting the truth. It’s just presenting an alternate viewpoint without the rose colored glasses Mr. Lattin chooses to wear.
Sixth, an alternate, traditional program wouldn’t have to be in the same class – it would be two different classes. The children who opt into the traditional track could move to a room with a teacher who would teach a traditional class and the students who opt into the Investigations class could move to a room with a teacher who would teach an Investigations lesson. Yes, there would be some logistical issues which would need to be addressed, but I have faith in our teachers to figure it out. Children at some county elementary schools rotate for lessons. All schools do it with encores – why couldn’t we do it with math as well?
Perhaps the citizens of Occoquan district will consider how Mr. Lattin treats those who disagree with him in the upcoming election. Perhaps they’ll find someone to run against him, or maybe the Democrats will – he is Republican after all and Prince William is poised to become blue.
Perhaps the school board will consider applying it’s rules of conduct to school board members as well as citizens and require that board members treat citizens with respect. Then again, the school board seems unconcerned with county employees breaking the law so why should it be concerned with a school board member disrespecting parents.
Perhaps a few of the other 1477 parents who signed the petition will consider attending the next board meeting and letting the board know that there aren’t just 6 concerned parents. Clearly email doesn’t matter. Clearly signing the petition doesn’t matter. Perhaps the only thing they’ll respond to is an overwhelming number of parents attending a board meeting to express their concern with Investigations.
The next meeting is Wednesday January 21 at 7PM in the new administration building. Now is the time to speak out.